Review Fix Exclusive: Blake Babies’ Juliana Hatfield and John Strohm Talk Vinyl Re-Release And More

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Review Fix Exclusive: Blake Babies’ Juliana Hatfield and John Strohm Talk Vinyl Re-Release And More

Patrick Hickey Jr, with a great interview for Review Fix with John and Juliana reflecting on the recently reissued 1993 Blake Babies compilation:

Review Fix: What made this album special for you when it was originally released?

JH: Well, it was a compilation of a lot of stuff that had already been released so for me personally it wasn’t so crucial that it was even put together. But I think it was nice for a lot of people out there who maybe hadn’t heard the original albums to be able to grab one single overview that contained a bunch of songs from a bunch of different places so that they could get a taste of the band.

JS: I enjoyed compiling this album, but it was intended to be a sort of retrospective once the band was in the process of breaking up. It was really emotional for us at the time, but I think we all believed we were on our way to more significant career accomplishments after Blake Babies. It was true for each of us I suppose, but not necessarily in the careers we intended. But I think it’s undeniable that our band launched Juliana as a force in popular music in the 90s, and any ambivalence I might have felt at the time has resolved into feeling very proud of what we all did together.

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Kirkland Ciccone : Hall Of Fame: Bed by Juliana Hatfield

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Kirkland Ciccone : Hall Of Fame: Bed by Juliana Hatfield

Kirkland Ciccone, from a blog post on 1998's Bed album:

Of course I bought it. I buy anything with her name on it. Then, ignoring college, I sat out in George Square with my CD Walkman, giving dirty looks to any pigeon that might try it with me. And I listened. I listened from start to finish. I listened through a slight rain burst. I listened and loved what I heard. It wasn’t as polished as previous albums, but it was undeniably honest, especially in the case of Sellout, a UK bonus track. Sellout is scabrously honest: “It’s not a sellout if nobody bought it.”

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Juliana To Perform At Wesley Stace's Cabinet Of Wonders in Boston on April 1, 2019

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Juliana To Perform At Wesley Stace's Cabinet Of Wonders in Boston on April 1, 2019

Juliana is returning to the "Cabinet of Wonders" variety show curated by and featuring Wesley Stace at City Winery Boston on April 1, 2019.

Previous appearances at these events have seen Juliana perform a couple of songs during the performance.

Tickets are available now:

https://citywinery.com/boston/cabinetofwonders040119.html

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Fave Five: Juliana Hatfield | PopMatters

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Fave Five: Juliana Hatfield | PopMatters

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Evan Sawdey, writing for PopMatters:

...for 2019, Hatfield continues her potent brand of catchy songwriting but marries it to lyrics dealing with ennui, alienation, and the difficulty of fitting into modern society with her new studio album Weird. In many ways, the vibe of the album is a bit of a throwback to her early-2000s records, but her maturity and wit is on full display even as she juggles some treacherous topics, just as her idols like the Kinks and the Merge Records family have done before.

So to celebrate the occasion, PopMatters asked Hatfield to fill out her own "Fave Five", this time choosing the topic of "Top Five Albums That Were Spun the Most on the Record Player of My Pre-Pubescence". Given how much she nods her heroes on Weird, it was as fitting a tribute as we could've asked for.

Find out which 5 albums Juliana mentions in the article:

https://www.popmatters.com/fave-five-juliana-hatfield-2627933426.html

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Interview -  Alone with her guitar, Juliana Hatfield embraces confusion on Weird | GuitarPlayer.com

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Interview - Alone with her guitar, Juliana Hatfield embraces confusion on Weird | GuitarPlayer.com

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Jim Beaugez, interviewing Juliana for GuitarPlayer.com:

[JB] Were there times on Weird when you dug particularly deep into the guitar tones?

[JH] Yeah, there were lots of sonic experiments, like the solo on “Lost Ship.” We recorded the guitar solo direct into the Neve console. No amplifier. That’s how I got that cool sound.

That’s also how Nirvana did “Territorial Pissings” [on Nevermind].

Oh, did they? I love the sound of it. It sounds like something’s broken. In the song “It’s So Weird,” we did the solo through a Leslie speaker, which I haven’t done much on my records. My favorite pedal was a Zvex Fuzz Factory, which I played on some stuff on this album. It’s my new favorite pedal.

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Revolutionary Punk - Interview with Juliana Hatfield | Weird Magazin

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Revolutionary Punk - Interview with Juliana Hatfield | Weird Magazin

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Christine Stonat, interviewing Juliana about Weird for Weird:

weird: As to be heard on your new album “Weird” your music might sound a little more “pop” today but still has this revolutionary rock punk attitude that comes with your voice and sound and often poetical lyrics. If you look back on over 25 years of your solo music what would you say has changed the most within your music?

Juliana Hatfield: I think my voice has changed a little — it has gotten a little bit lower (but not a lot). And I think my lyrics are a little less about me and all of my feelings and a little more about how I see the world around me. But I am still a revolutionary punk!

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Weird - Review Round-up (3)

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Weird - Review Round-up (3)

Another batch of Weird reviews from the past week. Thanks again to Carlos Lopez for sourcing many of these:

Russ Holsten, SLUG Magazine:

The truth of the matter is that Weird is a guitar record. Hatfield is the real deal. She can give you the hollow echo of Jerry Garcia, the pre-grunge sludge of Crazy Horse and the pop drive of Girlfriend-era Matthew Sweet. But make no mistake, Hatfield has her own unique guitar sound, and she lets that sound rip through this entire record. The best example of this is on the stunning track “Lost Ship.” She sings: “I wanna ride in a spaceship in my mind.” Just when you settle in to that pure sugar buzz a blistering guitar arrives halfway through the song—it’s lush, fuzzy and atmospheric with plenty of precision. It drives the Hatfield sound safely home.

Michelle Lindsey, Highway Queens:

Weird is the sound of an artist embracing herself and who she has become with pride and grace. It’s a refreshing and reassuring listen for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. Weirdos of the world unite.

Frank Valish, Under The Radar, (8/10):

In all, listening to Weird brings to mind Hatfield's 1995's album Only Everything. Coming after her breakout album Become What You Are, with The Juliana Hatfield Three, Only Everything took the mold and stretched it. The melodic touch and lyrical examination remained but there was something new, something more eccentric, something, to steal her own album title's word, weird. The pleasures of Weird reward frequent listening. It is an album that begs repeating as soon as one reaches the last bouncing notes of "Do It to Music."

Lee Zimmerman, Paste, (7.3/10):

...Weird provides an apt analogy for those who feel out of touch with a world that’s so askew. To some degree, it should also provide assurance for all those who feel the same.

Closed Captioned:

The hooks are still there on songs like “Receiver” and on “Lost Ship,” but Hatfield seems determined to show us another side and it’s all wonderful in its representation. Whatever compelled Hatfield to return to releasing music on the regular, we welcome it if albums like Weird are the end result.

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Weird - Review Round-up (2)

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Weird - Review Round-up (2)

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Here's another bunch of reviews for Weird.

Special thanks once again to Carlos Lopez for these links and many more that have been posted here in recent weeks.

Laura Snapes, The Guardian (3/5):

On Pussycat, from 2017, Hatfield wrote captivatingly horrible songs about Donald Trump that included a graphic vision of him having sex and a demand to melt Kellyanne Conway’s face off. Weird turns inwards, detailing the 51-year-old’s enduring awkwardness with a self-effacing candour – expressed in her forever young voice – that matches youthful successors such as Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy. Her hair’s not right; her shirt is stained. Everything’s for Sale lists society’s shopping list (“altered DNA, self-cleaning ovens”) over a stubborn, choppy guitar that intimates Hatfield’s refusal to sell out.

Chris Parker, No Depression:

Weird is an infectious listen with perhaps the deepest batch of winning melodies in Hatfield’s career, and fine, world-wizened lyrics that capture the feeling of helplessness and confusion endemic to modern life. In a strange way it feels to me like a distant answer to Liz Phair’s 20-something provocation Exile in Guyville, confirming that we’re still expats and that the strange/awful feeling in your stomach is perfectly normal.

Dan Potter, BeatRoute:

Feelings of being out of step with the world emanate from the mellow track “It’s So Weird.” Between the sedate classic rock influenced chord choices are stories of awkwardness and relations that have gone sour over time, sung for all to hear like a big celebration of the alienation. This uneasy mellowness continues on “Sugar” as Hatfield croons “Sugar, I hate your guts, Sugar I love you so much” as the acoustic guitar picking seems to quote George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.”

Elle Henriksen, mxdwn:

Hatfield closes out the album with “Do It To Music,” a comment on her rebellious attachment to music: “When I wanna block out the world, I do it to music.” She lets us in on her secret coping mechanism, her self-instructed education, her infinite mentality. Music just might be the universal language that we can all understand.

Jedd Beaudoin, Spectrum Culture (3.25/5):

Weird is ultimately about the ties that don’t bind and the binds that we find ourselves in, whether romantic or personal, and Hatfield seems like the best candidate to deliver that state of the (dis)union.

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Interview - Can’t Help Myself: a Conversation with Juliana Hatfield | Talkhouse

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Interview - Can’t Help Myself: a Conversation with Juliana Hatfield | Talkhouse

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Juliana is interviewed by Chris Collingwood (of Fountains of Wayne) in an article at Talkhouse:

Chris: It seems like whatever you’re singing about, you have an inherent tunefulness. Even on Pussycat, where you’re singing about horrible things, it’s catchy and it draws you in with great melodies.

Juliana: I can’t help myself. I can’t change who I am. I’m more appreciating it now. I’ve been frustrated like anyone. You feel like you’re repeating yourself, and I have these habits, and I can’t break the habits but really it’s just who I am. My musical persona—I was born with it, I think. Sometimes it feels frustrating because I can’t really alter it, or if I did it would probably come across as inauthentic.

Chris: Is it ever the case that the narrator in your songs isn’t you?

Juliana: In most of my songs, when people assume I’m talking about myself, they’re usually right. I don’t really take on other personas. Generally, I don’t put myself in the mind of people that are not me. The new record is all me, totally. Everything on this record is very personal.

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Interview - How the Awesome Power of Solitude Fueled Juliana Hatfield's New Album, 'Weird' | AllMusic

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Interview - How the Awesome Power of Solitude Fueled Juliana Hatfield's New Album, 'Weird' | AllMusic

Chris Steffen, interviewing Juliana for AllMusic:

AllMusic: "It's So Weird" really lays bare your contentment with and inclination towards solitude.

Hatfield: I was intending to have it be an album about the comfort of aloneness, or the comfort of living in a small space and not venturing outside of a small radius, outside of a few blocks. I was going to focus on all of the things that went on in this small apartment. I know from experience that there are people out there who don’t really understand how being alone can be a wonderful experience. For me, I really love solitude, and it’s like medicine. After I’ve been with other people, out in public, I always feel a little bit weakened, and I need to go be alone, and that gives me my strength back. I think a lot of people are afraid of being alone, they don’t want to be alone, a lot of people have the goal to find a partner to share their lives with, but I’ve never been like that. I understand that it makes certain people uncomfortable.

That song starts with a conversation I was having with my brother, and he was asking me, “Don’t you ever need your arms around someone?” and I’m like, “No, I don’t. Is that weird?” I’m a little sensitive about it, because I think people are going to think I’m weird, or they’re not going to believe me. There are always people who are like, “You just haven’t found the right person yet,” and people who say that to me just don’t understand what it is to be content, alone.

The excellent interview continues to expand upon the solitude theme of Weird. Recommended.

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Weird - Review Round-up

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Weird - Review Round-up

Juliana's new album Weird is released today.

Most of us received our physical copies over the last couple of weeks from American Laundromat Records. The album is now out on your streaming and download services of choice too.

Here's a selection of the reviews from recent days:

Adrian Breeman, Cryptic Rock (4/5):

Nearly two years later > [after Pussycat]> , with other projects mixed between, Weird is no less powerful, and the topic—Hatfield herself—is no less important. The melodies on Weird are more inviting, even if the topic is more personal and cathartic.

Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald :

Explorations of threats from the outside world fill up “Weird.” And Hatfield sets them all to her expected, absurdly consistent hooks and bright, tight melodies. She has written plenty of personal songs in 30 years (over nearly 30 albums from half a dozen bands), but this one shines in the hot spotlight of intense intimacy. Sometimes over sad chord changes, more often over sparkling indie pop, she sings about wanting to be alone, the comfort of a solitary life.

James Weiskittel, Soundblab (10/10):

...with Weird, Hatfield has impressively channeled a potent combination of her trademark angst and a ‘singer/songwriter’ vibe into what is easily her strongest batch of songs in a decade

Bank Robber Music:

Hints of everything good about rock music here, from the Crazy Horse noodling that ends “Staying In” to the new wave synth hits of “Sugar” to the chunky Cheap Trick chords of “Paid To Lie.”

The Soul Of A Clown:

Juliana Hatfield already has a fan base full of extremely devoted fans and there is absolutely no doubt that they will love this. What’s really interesting is just how relevant and current her sound is (even though it follows a style she has had for years). Given how huge an act like Courtney Barnett has become, it makes you think that this release could attract a whole new group of younger fans.

Barry Divola, Sydney Morning Herald (3/5):

...two highlights are All Right, Yeah and Do It To Music, both joyous testaments to strapping on headphones and dancing alone to make everything a whole lot better

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Video - All Right, Yeah

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Video - All Right, Yeah

The second video from Weird is animated, colorized, and directed by Jed Davis.

Juliana, speaking to Consequence of Sound, where the video premiered today:

The repeated “All Right, Yeah” in the choruses was my attempt to write a big, dumb hook that people could sing along to at hockey games or football games or other sports events. I was thinking of Blur’s “Song 2” and its “Woo Hoo!” choruses. I want to be the song that comes on in the stadium after a big goal, or touchdown, or whatever. I also had an alternate image of drunken pals with their arms around each others’ shoulders, jumping up and down and yelling “All Right, Yeah!” all together as a group, at some celebratory gathering like a wedding reception or graduation party. I wanted this song to work in these kinds of contexts. I don’t know if I succeeded. Probably not. My dreams for my songs are often at odds with the world outside of my head.

Read the whole article in Consequence of Sound's Origins series - "a new music feature in which we give an artist we like a chance to dig into what inspired their latest song":

https://consequenceofsound.net/2019/01/juliana-hatfield-origins-all-right-yeah-video/

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Interview - Juliana Hatfield Blocks Out the World As We Know It and She Feels Fine - Albumism

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Interview - Juliana Hatfield Blocks Out the World As We Know It and She Feels Fine - Albumism

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From an excellent interview by Grant Walters for Albumism:

GW: You mentioned this sort of default mode that you adhere to when you’re writing songs. I’m curious to know as an artist where and when your observations of the world around you engage? What ignites your motivation to create a piece of music?

JH: Well, I guess it depends on where my head is at while I’m writing. When I was making Pussycat before ...Olivia Newton-John, I was caught up in national current events, and that was kind of all-consuming at the time, and that’s just what was on my mind. It was my reaction to everything going on coming up to the presidential election. And then, when I was younger, I was just totally self-absorbed in writing about my own angst and anguish and my emotional problems. I was just really wrapped up in that.

I think now, rather than just looking inward, I’m trying to place myself in the context of the world around me a little bit more—just talking about how I see things, how I see myself in the world as it is today. With the new album, it’s seeing myself as kind of an outsider in society. It started out as wanting to make an album about the comfort of living in a very small space, and not venturing out much and having a very small radius of an existence—like, a five-block radius outside of a small apartment. And just how comforting that can be rather than isolating.

I mean, that was the concept, and it became a little bit more than that, but it was coming to terms with a solitary life and trying to see it in a positive way rather than any other way.

Grant also puts Juliana on the spot to pick her 5 favourite records of all time.

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Interview - Goldmine

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Interview - Goldmine

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Juliana is interviewed by Warren Kurtz for Goldmine, who are also giving away a couple of copies of Weird if you're happy to enter a draw by subscribing to their mailing list.

The interview covers various aspects of the new album recording and ends with a question about the UK shows in May. Juliana:

It will be with a band. I haven’t been there with a band in a long time. Todd will be playing drums. Dean Fisher will be on bass, who some remember from The Juliana Hatfield Three. In the meantime, I am working on two more videos and a short film, all from the album.

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Radio Interview - Unchained WCR FM

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Radio Interview - Unchained WCR FM

Originallly broadcast last night on the Unchained show for Wolverhampton's WCR FM in the UK, here's another radio interview with Juliana.

This was part of the second hour of Garry Foster's show and his interview (recorded in November 2018) begins after the 22 minute mark.

Topics include the solitude / outsider theme of Weird, how the recording / songwriting process was a bit different this time, and some Olivia chat.

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